Author Archives: sukennet

Press F

Background: My informant is a friend of mine of Chinese heritage. He is active in the gaming and computer science communities, and is very knowledgeable about memes and internet culture.  The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. 

Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Wednesday afternoon. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. During the call and in between our discussions of different folklore items, we talked socially about how his finals were going. Thus, this conversation relatively casual. The main piece is made up of a transcription of our call.

Main Piece: All right. Like, have you ever heard of people say like f in the chat or like Press F to pay respects.

Me: Oh yeah, that’s like pay respect right

Yeah, press have to pay respect, like that’s like from call of duty. But now, people just use it as a generic way to, like, say like oh I’m sad for you, like, That’s unlucky, whatever.

You do, you know, like how it started in Call of Duty, like how did that happen?

Someone posted like a picture and I don’t know, it was like a meme. So it started as like a picture someone posts that unlike other subreddit, or like some kind of forum. And people just kind of spread the image everywhere. It was like a while ago, but like, kind of like subtle asian traits (a popular Facebook group) y’know. 

Yeah, anyway, so, it was for Call fo Duty Advanced Warfare in that game. There was like a scene when you’re…when you’re playing on PC. Like you’re…you’re at a funeral, and you have to pay respects, so you press the F button that’s just what you do. 

And so like a youtuber actually he uploaded it. Like a video of the sequence about when you touch the like the casket to pay respects and then after that, like when the thing got posted. Conan O’Brien actually…He reviewed the game and criticize the gameplay especially like the Press F to pay respects part because it was like…O, it’s just such a stupid like a meaningless kind of action and then from then on, there were like videos like… so there were like videos called like intense respect playing.

And now…a lot of people just refer to, like, sad events or like if like you’re trying to empathize with someone. They just say F, like in the chat as much as specifically for like Twitch chat, I guess, but like a mutation on the meme.

Thoughts: I was at once really impressed and somewhat surprised about my informant’s knowledge of the meme and/or saying of Press F. My informant is generally the type of individual to be knowledgeable about these things, and the origin of this gaming folklore is relatively recent, so I cannot say I am totally surprised by his knowledge. Nevertheless, I think it’s fascinating how he plays the role of a folklorist as he analyzes and details how the saying and meme has evolved over time.

Drive Through Birthday Party

Background: My informant is a friend of mine of Chinese heritage, though he grew up in the United States. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. 

Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Thursday morning. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. We did not talk about much other than folklore because my informant had a final immediately after our call. The main piece is made up of a transcription of our call. 

Main Piece: Aight so I don’t think there’s like an official name for this but it’s like a it’s like a drive-through birthday party that has happened ever since coronavirus hit. So like one time, one of my friends birthdays was last week so then what happened was he organized it so that he like made a poster in his yard. And so me and a bunch of his friends and a bunch of his family, like pulled up in our cars and like we formed a line and we just like, we like as we drove by his house we would just honk we would like talk. And we would like have posters. We couldn’t do gifts because on the off-chance that we would be spreading coronavirus through the gifts but like some people had like cars that were like topless or like with a sunroof and like people would be standing through the sunroof and yelling and it was his overall a really good time

Thoughts: This is a bit of coronavirus folklore and discussed how coronavirus and the lack of in-person interaction has affected birthday celebrations. I think what is particularly interesting about this is that my informant did not know anything about the origin of the trend even though it has only popped up in the last two months or so. My informant says it is just ubiquitous now, which is fascinating and something that makes this celebration uniquely folklore, as it is ubiquitous without a discernible origin but almost universally adopted.

Chinese Chopstick God

Background: My informant is a friend of mine of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese heritage. His parents are both from Taiwan and are mixed between Chinese, indigenous Taiwanese, and Japanese. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. The entire main piece is a transcription of our call.

Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Wednesday afternoon. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. During the call and in between our discussions of different folklore items, we talked socially about how we were acclimating. Thus, this conversation was more casual than the rest of my interviews. My informant’s dad, who is the source of this piece, is mixed between Taiwanese native and Chinese from the Hunan province.

Main Piece:

This was the first one I thought about right now when you were listing stuff out…uhm let’s see… the first thing I remember was when I was younger like when I was in elementary school I was told that I could not play with my chopsticks at dinner, like I couldn’t make them into like I couldn’t use them to pretend to be drumsticks or couldn’t use them to pretend to be like standing up in the rice. And I thought it was kind of odd because I saw everyone else around me doing it. Like, why can I do this, his belief or rationale behind it was that Ancient Chinese people believe that the chopsticks, where the tools of ….I believe it’s like the word God or something like that. And so by playing around with them, you’re disrespecting the wood God and children who played with. I’m not kidding. I swear, you looking back on it, it seems pretty ridiculous but you know for a kid who doesn’t know any better, like, you know, you’re just like enthralled by this. Anyhow, so as a kid. If you played with the chopsticks, and like, you know, use them as drumsticks or whatever you make the word God angry and then in the middle of the night. The word God will come and spank in the middle of the night with the chopsticks

Me: ahahahaha. What if you sleep on your back?

Too bad. I don’t know how much I believe that at the time. But I can tell you after day, to this day, I still don’t really play with my chopsticks. I’m very Utilitarian with them.

Me: So, so, like, how old were you when when this story was told to you.

I would say like five or six ish. I was like the beginning of elementary school.

Thoughts: I found this very interesting because my parents are Chinese and I have never heard of a wood god that spanks people. Like many folk stories/tales/beliefs, this folk belief is probably told to children to make sure that they behave.

Wearing Red for Lunar New Year

Background: My informant is a friend of mine of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese heritage. His parents are both from Taiwan and are mixed between Chinese, indigenous Taiwanese, and Japanese. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. 

Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Wednesday afternoon. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. During the call and in between our discussions of different folklore items, we talked socially about how we were acclimating. Thus, this conversation was more casual than the rest of my interviews. The main piece is made up of a transcription of our call.

Main Piece:

Chinese New Year. Right, everyone wants to be a red because red’s a lucky color. 

And I don’t know what the exact rationale behind it is but like apparently for certain years like it’s even more important for whatever Zodiac animal it is for that year.

To wear red because they need luck that you’re more than others. Others for some reason. So the way that my family took that was that they for Chinese New Year we buy each other gifts of red underwear, so that we would always read throughout the year. Yeah, even to this day. People still talking about the red, red underwear, both on both sides of the family both my white relatives and my Asian relatives.

Me: White relatives too?!

Yeah they’re definitely… they’re gung ho about it.

Me: OK but definitely they’re not wearing red every day of the year right?

Yeah its just more times than not.

Thoughts: I found this a particularly entertaining variation of a classical Chinese tradition of wearing red. This tradition was modified for my informant’s family so that they could wear red without showing it outwardly, and do it throughout the year rather than just one period during the lunar new year. I thought it was also really interesting that my informant’s white relatives performed and enjoyed this folklore as well. This shows that this folk practice is more tradition than heritage. 

The Woman on the Moon

Background: My informant is a friend of mine of Chinese heritage, though she grew up in the United States. They are currently attending Duke University. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. 

Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Wednesday night. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. During the call and in between our discussions of different folklore items, we talked about the finals that she had coming up. Thus, this conversation was relatively casual. The main piece is made up of a transcription of our call.

Main Piece: Uhm..The archer… it’s too hot on…like in China I guess. Because there’s 10 suns so the archer shoots down 9 suns. So there’s only one sun left. But then that sun is mad for is mad at the archer for killing all the brothers. And he…uhm…the sun god poisons his..uhm watchamacallit…his girlfriend, or like his lover or something. 

And she can’t recover from it. So then he like travels really far or something and gets medicine for it. And the medicine sends her to the moon.

Me: OK, so like how did you hear about this story?

It was in my elementary Chinese school. 

Thoughts: I found this really interesting because most individuals who are connected to Chinese folklore and culture hear about the archer shooting down ten suns, but do not learn about how the last sun is angry and poison’s the archer’s lover. I also find this item of folklore interesting because it was taught at a Chinese afterschool, and probably fits in with the folk stories that are taught in culture curriculums in high school language classes. In that way, it is distributed in formal outlets, though there is still multiplicity and variation.

Spanish Proverb on finding the pig

Background: My informant is a friend of mine of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese heritage. His parents are both from Taiwan and are mixed between Chinese, indigenous Taiwanese, and Japanese. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. 

Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Wednesday afternoon. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. During the call and in between our discussions of different folklore items, we talked socially about how we were acclimating. Thus, this conversation was more casual than the rest of my interviews. The main piece is made up of a transcription of our call.

Main Piece:

There’s, I just got introduced to this like two, three weeks ago, I think there’s a Spanish thing. The translation is: stop looking for the pig, we already found it And it’s used essentially it’s like a slang sort of joke for someone farts and they’re like a pig. And so the idea that in Spain, when someone for instance like really loud and we can hear it makes it, you’re like, Oh, stop hunting for the pig we already found it. I think it’s I think it’s kind of clever.

Me: So like how did you hear about this what was it from?

It was with my mom’s friend. Who helped us move.

Me: Like an adult?

Yeah. And it can be used for burps too. I think that’s what it’s mostly used for.

Me:Can you type it in the chat real quick?

No necesita buscar por el jamón, está aquí.

Thoughts: I found this particularly interesting because it seems to be very similar to what American schoolchildren would call a fart joke. However, this Spanish fart comment can be applied to burps and other bodily functions as well. I wonder if perhaps this indicates that burping is more socially important in Spain than it is in the States. I also found this variation striking because it came from a middle aged adult.

The Vietnamese Creation Myth

Background: My informant is a Vietnamese college student. Their parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when their parents were around 20, for religious and other reasons. My informant’s identity and worldview is largely shaped by their Vietnamese culture and immigrant upbringing. One of my informant’s main life goals is to one day move back to Vietnam and be in their homeland.

Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Monday evening. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. After our call, some other people joined the zoom call and the atmosphere was generally friendly.

Viet Creation Myths

A dragon called Lạc Long Quân came from the sea. And he fell in love with fairy from a mountain. So one day she travels down the mountain And meet this dragon, man. And she calls love with this dragon, man. And they’re like, Let’s have babies. And so you know they do the thing they fall in love and they have 100 eggs between them. Eventually those hundred eggs hatch into 100 men. But, and this was all like, not in the mountains or like in in the sea this was in Vietnam. So then they were like “I can’t be away from my home much longer.” And so They divide up their children. She took half up to her home and he took the others into the ocean. And it’s generally believed to be that the Vietnamese people descended from these 100 eggs. And it is generally believed that the 50 that went with the fairy to the mountain are the ethnic minorities of Vietnam. And the 50 that went down to the shore with the dragon they are the ones that are ethnically Viet or người kinh.

Me: And then like after the fairy takes the people up to the mountain and the dragon takes the people down to the sea. Do they like interact with the people, or is it just like did they just leave the eggs there and then like dip?

Yeah, generally generally it slowly like they raise their kids.

Also so the 50 people in the mountains there’s another iteration, saying that they were ethnic minorities,  and some iterations say that they were meant to leaders who eventually become the rulers or like the kings. 

Thoughts: I think this is the first creation myth I’ve heard about a racial-ethnic/national category of people, if we are not counting the story of Adam and Eve. It is certainly the first creation myth I’ve heard about a racial-ethnic/national category of people from a person identifying with that racial-ethnic/national identity. I was intrigued by the motif of fairies in this myth because I am not familiar with fairies occurring often in Asian folklore. Prior to this, I had believed that fairies come primarily from European or non-Asian folklore. Regardless, I think it is really interesting how the creation myth uses the geography of the area as well as two entities to express the multifaceted nature of the Vietnamese population. 

Lady Triệu

Background: My informant is a Vietnamese college student. Their parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when their parents were around 20, for religious and other reasons. My informant’s identity and worldview is largely shaped by their Vietnamese culture and immigrant upbringing. One of my informant’s main life goals is to one day move back to Vietnam and be in their homeland. My informant is interested in studying decolonization and has done so in college. Thus, this story about Vietnamese decolonization is especially important to them, although they did express that they are not certain about how this history of Vietnam being colonized affects their identity.

Context: Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Monday evening. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. After our call, some other people joined the zoom call and the atmosphere was generally friendly.

Main Piece:

For most of our existence as a country(Vietnam), we’ve been colonized, and mostly by China. So we have a lot of like … we have stories about warrior people who fight and like try to rebel against China, meaning that and a lot of these stories are usually women. Because apparently Vietnam used to be a matriarchy or something so a lot of our stories usually involve women fighting against China. 

Here’s this woman. Her name is Lady Triệu. Orphan woman. But she lives with her brother and his family. And her sister in law was kind of horrible to her. And so she killed her sister in law and runs away to the mountains and like starts mountain training. And her brother tries to convince her to come down and that sort of thing but she doesn’t because because she wants to train and so she enlists in the army. 

So sometime between like the mountains and her listing she gets married has baby or at least one baby.

And like in all the depictions of her. It’s like she’s a fierce woman with long boobs. And when she goes into battle she throws her boobs over her shoulders.

Me: So like, just for, like, so I can categorize this. Like do people actually think this happened?

Think of it more like like the story of Hercules where it may happen, but a lot of the stuff is exaggerated, all the time.

Thoughts: Thoughts: This was interesting to me because I was previously unaware of Vietnam being colonized by China. The first time I heard of this story was in friendly conversation and we made light of the fact that the woman is primarily characterized as having long boobs. This was obviously sexualized in our discussion and I wonder if that feature had the same context when it was told throughout history. Lady Triệu also plays into the tendency of warrior leaders in uprising who tend to become historical legends or folk heroes.